Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor in SCOTUS robe.jpg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
of the United States
Assumed office
August 8, 2009[1]
Nominated byBarack Obama
Preceded byDavid Souter
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In office
October 7, 1998 – August 6, 2009
Nominated byBill Clinton
Preceded byJ. Daniel Mahoney
Succeeded byRaymond Lohier
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
August 12, 1992 – October 7, 1998
Nominated byGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byJohn M. Walker Jr.
Succeeded byVictor Marrero
Personal details
BornSonia Maria Sotomayor
(1954-06-25) June 25, 1954 (age 64)
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Kevin Noonan
(m. 1976; div. 1983)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Yale University (JD)

Sonia Maria Sotomayor (ər/; Spanish: [ˈsonja sotomaˈʝoɾ];[2] born June 25, 1954)[3] is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, appointed by President Barack Obama in May 2009 and confirmed in August 2009. She has the distinction of being its first justice of Hispanic descent and the first Latina.[4]

Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York City, to Puerto Rican-born parents. Her father died when she was nine, and she was subsequently raised by her mother. Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for four-and-a-half years before entering private practice in 1984. She played an active role on the boards of directors for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991; confirmation followed in 1992. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her nomination was slowed by the Republican majority in the United States Senate, but she was eventually confirmed in 1998. On the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases and wrote about 380 opinions. Sotomayor has taught at the New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.

In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice David Souter. Her nomination was confirmed by the Senate in August 2009 by a vote of 68–31. While on the court, Sotomayor has supported the informal liberal bloc of justices when they divide along the commonly perceived ideological lines. During her tenure on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has been identified with concern for the rights of defendants, calls for reform of the criminal justice system, and making impassioned dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity, including Schuette v. BAMN and Utah v. Strieff.

Early life

A woman and man, both in their thirties and both dressed in 'Sunday best', hold a similarly dressed very young girl standing on the arm of a floral-print sofa.
Sotomayor and her parents
A studio pose of a six- or seven-year-old girl with short dark curly hair in a sleeveless print dress.
Sotomayor as a young girl

Sonia Maria Sotomayor[5] was born in the New York City borough of The Bronx.[6] Her father was Juan Sotomayor (born c. 1921),[7] from the area of Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico,[8][9][10] and her mother was Celina Báez (born 1927),[11] an orphan[12] from the neighborhood of Santa Rosa in Lajas, a still mostly rural area on Puerto Rico's southwest coast.[10]

The two left Puerto Rico separately, met, and married during World War II after Celina served in the Women's Army Corps.[13][14] Juan Sotomayor had a third-grade education, did not speak English, and worked as a tool and die worker;[8] Celina Baez worked as a telephone operator and then a practical nurse.[7] Sonia's younger brother, Juan Sotomayor (born c. 1957), later became a physician and university professor in the Syracuse, New York, area.[15][16]

Sotomayor was raised a Catholic[4] and grew up in Puerto Rican communities in the South Bronx and East Bronx; she self-identifies as a "Nuyorican".[13] The family lived in a South Bronx tenement[17] before moving in 1957 to the well-maintained, racially and ethnically mixed, working-class Bronxdale Houses housing project[17][18][19] in Soundview (which has over time been thought as part of both the East Bronx and South Bronx).[20][21][22] Her relative proximity to Yankee Stadium led to her becoming a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees.[23] The extended family got together frequently[17] and regularly visited Puerto Rico during summers.[24]

Sonia grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who was emotionally distant; she felt closest to her grandmother, who she later said gave her a source of "protection and purpose".[12] Sonia was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven,[8] and began taking daily insulin injections.[25] Her father died of heart problems at age 42, when she was nine years old.[7][17] After this, she became fluent in English.[8] Sotomayor has said that she was first inspired by the strong-willed Nancy Drew book character, and then after her diabetes diagnosis led doctors to suggest a different career from detective, she was inspired to go into a legal career and become a judge by watching the Perry Mason television series.[8][23][25] She reflected in 1998: "I was going to college and I was going to become an attorney, and I knew that when I was ten. Ten. That's no jest."[23]

Celina Sotomayor put great stress on the value of education; she bought the Encyclopædia Britannica for her children, something unusual in the housing projects.[13] Despite the distance between the two, which became greater after her father's death and which was not fully reconciled until decades later,[12] Sotomayor has credited her mother with being her "life inspiration".[26] For grammar school, Sotomayor attended Blessed Sacrament School in Soundview,[27] where she was valedictorian and had a near-perfect attendance record.[22][28] Although underage, Sotomayor worked at a local retail store and a hospital.[29] Sotomayor passed the entrance tests for and then attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.[4][30] At Cardinal Spellman, Sotomayor was on the forensics team and was elected to the student government.[4][30] She graduated as valedictorian in 1972.[13] Meanwhile, the Bronxdale Houses had fallen victim to increasing heroin use, crime, and the emergence of the Black Spades gang.[17] In 1970, the family found refuge by moving to Co-op City in the Northeast Bronx.[17]

Other Languages
español: Sonia Sotomayor
français: Sonia Sotomayor
íslenska: Sonia Sotomayor
italiano: Sonia Sotomayor
lietuvių: Sonia Sotomayor
Nederlands: Sonia Sotomayor
norsk nynorsk: Sonia Sotomayor
português: Sonia Sotomayor
Simple English: Sonia Sotomayor
slovenčina: Sonia Sotomayorová
српски / srpski: Соња Сотомајор
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sonia Sotomayor
Tiếng Việt: Sonia Sotomayor